Rwanda’s NIRDA Kicks off Campaign to Fund Hardware Developers

Top young local hardware developers have started the competition, a sprint-like event in which programmers, designers and entrepreneurs join together to intensively develop prototypes within three days.

In the competition, young innovators assisted by mentors are tasked to be typically ambitious, passionate, find solutions for challenges, most especially in private business and industry sector.

The Hackathon competition which was launched by the National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA) on Friday, aims at finding solutions to future industry, by leveraging technology to solve the current and future challenges of the country’s industries and beyond.

Winners of the competition are expected to develop ideas that will help local industries and entrepreneurs to grow in customer care, supply and production, using developed innovations (hardware).

Innovations must be adding value to the private sector, customers, and industry leaders.

The first of its kind, Hackathon competition convened 37 groups, making a total of 100 top Hackathon competitors that were selected across the country.

Top hardware developers (Hackathons), were selected among 400, to continue with the second underway stage competition, depending on the most important innovation solution.

Hackathon competition – the second stage, started with mentoring selected teams (37), presentation by owners and modifying ideas by experts (Judges) for the selection of winning ideas, on Sunday 22.

Each group had 2-5 members working on the same innovative solution.

Successful teams will be awarded prizes, including, money, three-month incubation in NIRDA’s STEM Lab, according to officials.

The best team of Hackathon competitions will receive Rwf2 million while other five winning teams will take home Rwf1M each.

The competition is jointly organized by the National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA) United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and Ministry of Trade and Industry among other partners.

The Hackathon kicked off on Friday and runs until Sunday, with the announcement of the overall winners of the competitions.

Kampeta Sayinzoga, Director General of NIRDA said that “we organised this hackathon to get best innovative ideas, winners are trained for three months and their ideas will be used to develop the economy.”

“We are targeting innovative improvement in industry sector and business,”

“The intention of this competition should not be winning money. But entrepreneurs that find solutions for various challenges industries are faced with,” Sayinzoga said.

She added: “Industry sector is developing at a high speed, almost doubled, we can’t keep on using existing same ideas and innovators, we need new and young ones.”

According to the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Rwanda aims at reaching upper-middle income by 2035 and high income by 2050.

However, this will require average annual growth of 10%, meaning that the current growth shall be doubled, which will require, among others, continuous investments in education and innovation.

Geneviève Uwamariya, one of the Hackathon participants, said that “this the right time to show what I can do in hardware development, I think I have 80% chances of winning the race because my project hugely focuses on new innovations in the wine production business, which should be uplifted.”

Uwamariya developed a banana ripening machines that speed up ripening in 5 days.

“Locally, ripening was done by covering bananas with fibres, this local process took about 2 weeks, hence my innovation is becoming important to the sector,” Uwamariya said.




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